Robert Darnton


Robert Darnton is Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and University Librarian at Harvard. His latest book is Poetry and the Police: Communication Networks in Eighteenth-Century Paris.


  • Six Reasons Google Books Failed

    March 28, 2011

    Judge Denny Chin’s opinion in rejecting the settlement between Google and the authors and publishers who sued it for infringement of their copyrights can be read as both as a map of wrong turns taken in the past and as an invitation to design a better route into the digital future. Extrapolating from the dense, 48-page text that accompanied the judge’s March 23 decision, it is possible to locate six crucial points where things went awry.

  • 1789—2011?

    February 22, 2011

    The question has come to haunt every article and broadcast from Egypt, Tunisia and other countries in the region whose people have revolted: what constitutes a revolution?

  • How Google Can Save America's Books

    November 23, 2010

    Why not adapt Google's formula for success to the public good—a digital library composed of virtually all the books in our greatest research libraries available free of charge to the entire citizenry, in fact, to everyone in the world?

  • A Library Without Walls

    October 4, 2010

    Can we create a National Digital Library? That is, a comprehensive library of digitized books that will be easily accessible to the general public. Simple as it sounds, the question is extraordinarily complex.

  • Talking About Brazil with Lilia Schwarcz

    August 17, 2010

    On a recent trip to Brazil, I struck up a conversation with Lilia Schwarcz, one of Brazil's finest historians and anthropologists. The talk turned to the two subjects she has studied most--racism and national identity.

  • Blogging, Now and Then

    March 18, 2010

    Blogging brings out the hit-and-run element in communication. Bloggers tend to be punchy. They often hit below the belt; and when they land a blow, they dash off to another target. Pow! The idea is to provoke, to score points, to vent opinions, and frequently to gossip.